Book Review: Kit Brennan’s Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards

Posted February 13, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Kit Brennan’s Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards

Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards

in Paperback edition on January 1, 2013 and has 274 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the Whip Smart: Lola Montez historical fiction adventure series. The series begins in 1842 with our introduction to Lola and how she “finds herself”.

I received an ARC from the publisher.

My Take

It’s a rollicking, exuberant, melodramatic adventure in 1842 Europe with a witless Eliza Rosana Gilbert plunging into everything and anything as she flashes back into the past, remembering how she got to this cell-like room.

I do adore Brennan’s descriptions as she vividly conveys Eliza’s antics and emotions — you can’t help but read with the rhythm of Eliza’s liveliness. With another of her characters, I could feel the spittle flying and kept ducking whenever his character spoke!

I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I do admire “Lola” for just diving in and trying her best. As awful as that might be. Then, on the other hand, she’s a self-centered, immature, naive, overly egotistical idiot whom I simply want to whack upside the head. She makes me think of naive young girls heading to Hollywood, convinced they are going to become major stars.

She talks about how she doesn’t want to be like her mother, and yet, she is so very much her mother. It makes me very grateful that Emma is where she is with her step-relatives.

When you get down to it, “Lola” is a sad person in this story as she plunges into one disaster after another, never learning from any of her experiences. People are using her right and left, and she never picks up on it. At least, not until Diego and his analogy about life and a deck of cards. I think I’m impressed that she survives.

One of the things I do like about this story is that Brennan has chosen a relatively obscure time in European history — obscure only in that Americans don’t learn about this period in Spanish history, so it’s a treat to learn about a Spain after the Peninsular War.

I’m not buying the Gramaldis’ attitude about Eliza. Supposedly they’ve been involved in this business for quite some time and have some sense of a person’s character. How on earth did they think Eliza would perform?? They certainly never gave her any real training or suggestions.

Ohh, I just love the scene where Diego and Eliza decide on her new name.

Be warned. This is a sad story with an oddly sad ending. At least for me — I cried.

The Story

Eliza wants to live, and she is diving into everything and anything, exploring what life has to offer. And offer it does when she is chosen for a special role in a multi-layered performance in Spain.

The Characters

Eliza Rosana Gilbert is a twenty-two-year-old lady in name only. She has unintentionally, but with no regret, burned so many of those virtuous bridges, and she intends to live uproariously.

Major Craigie is her stepfather; he and her mother live in India. Aunt Catherine is Craigie’s older sister; she and her husband, Uncle Herbert Rae, have taken in Emma. Major General Sir Jasper Nicolls oversaw Eliza’s education.

Eliza’s lovers include:
Lieutenant Thomas James was her husband. George Lennox is a selfish sod. Lord James Howard Harris, the third Earl of Malmesbury, is unabashedly joyful and something in government. Prince Heinrich LXXII.

Fanny Kelly is an acting coach. Mr. Hernandez is a dance instructor and scout. Alexandre Dumas and his wife, Ida Ferrier, have a cameo. Benjamin Lumley is the theatre impresario in London.

Juan de Grimaldi is a theatre impresario exiled from Spain with his family. The nasty Doña Concepción Rodríguez is his vicious wife with a twin in her daughter, Clotilde.

Father Miguel de la Vega is a Jesuit deeply involved. Matilde serves as the wetnurse and chaperone. Pedro Coria is a a shadowy figure.

The Spanish players
Señor Ventura de la Vega is the Father’s much more cheerful brother who owns the playhouse. Antonio Guzmán is the principal lead.

The Spanish Court
Ex-Queen Cristina — Maria Cristina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies — gave up her throne and is agitating politically. She quietly married a guardsman, Agustin Fernando Muñoz. Princess Isabel is Cristina’s oldest daughter, and she will be queen when she comes of age. If she doesn’t die from overeating! Princess Luisa Fernanda is her younger, much sweeter sister. Infanta Luisa Carlota is Cristina’s older sister married to Don Francisco. Argüelles is the princesses’ tutor. Don Carlos Bourbon is the late king’s brother.

General Baldomero Espartero is the current prime minister. General Diego de Léon is another exhilarating character whom you can’t help but love. My favorite of all the characters. He is planning with General Manuel de la Concha.

Juliana de Porris is a healer out in the country. Paulos is her son.

The Cover and Title

Ooh-la-la, the cover is so very Lola! The back of a bright red satin bustier atop a very form-fitting skirt. There’s a sense of adventure and sex waiting behind these ties!

The title lives life just as Lola does when Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards. Yup, they don’t know what hit ’em…